Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound: Your First Line of Detection
What is Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound?
Musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound is a relatively new, non-invasive, painless, quick, and efficient form of diagnostic imaging that can be used to detect soft tissue abnormalities in muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. As its names implies, MSK uses ultrasound, an existing technology, to allow your AFM physician to see things that would not normally be picked up by an x-ray, including bone, soft tissue, fluid, and more—all in a “live,” real-time state.
What Are the Benefits of Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound?
Because Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound uses technology similar to maritime sonar, it emits no ionizing radiation, which for patients undergoing a multitude of tests, can reduce overall exposure. In addition, MSK Ultrasound meets or exceeds the diagnostic capabilities of other imaging technologies, including finer imaging, which can make its effectiveness the optimal choice in a wide variety of scenarios. Finally, MSK Ultrasound is both inexpensive and portable, which can provide more diagnostic “bang for your buck.” Because of this, it can be performed directly in your doctor’s office, thereby eliminating long wait times, claustrophobic tubes, deafening loud noises, and expensive hospital bills.
There are no long-term side effects associated with Musculoskeletal Ultrasound, and the procedure rarely causes discomfort.
For a relatively thorough list of clinical evidence showing the effectiveness of MSK Ultrasound for a wide variety of conditions, please click here.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound Versus MRI
Although Musculoskeletal Ultrasound and MRI are comparable in both sensitivity and specificity, MSK Is meant to be a complementary technology with MRI. In other words, this means that in many instances, MSK Ultrasound can be used as a first imaging method for the detection of soft-tissue changes (especially for those related to shoulder injuries), but may need to be used in conjunction with MRI for finer diagnoses.
Literature shows that there is no difference in sensitivity and specificity in MSK ultrasound (sensitivity 1.0, specificity 0.97) and MRI, however there are many advantages related to ultrasound, including low cost, portability, real-time assessment and the ability to image exactly where the pain is. Shoulder pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, knee pain, ankle pain are all conditions that can be assessed with MSK Ultrasound to diagnose disorders such as rotator cuff tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, trigger finger, knee sprains, ankle sprains, tendonitis, and bursitis.
In fact, Musculoskeletal Ultrasound is becoming such a popular alternative to MRI that the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) has established a certification for it. As a result of our commitment to our patients, AFM’s technologist is the first—and currently the only—certified sonographer in Washington State.
In addition to effectiveness, MSK Ultrasound also carries a much lower cost, both to physicians and their patients, than MRI. In fact, according to this article, “if ultrasound was used first in diagnosing 30% of rotator cuff injuries instead of MRI or CT, the savings would have exceeded $31 million. Using ultrasound first in 30% of ankle injuries would have saved approximately $8 million. And if ultrasound was used first in 70% of the diagnostic evaluations for all both conditions—rotator cuff and ankle injuries—the combined savings to Medicare would have added up to more than $91 million.”
Interested in Learning More About Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound?
Are you interested in finding out if Musculoskeletal Ultrasound can help diagnose your condition in an easier, less invasive, and perhaps most importantly less expensive, manner? If so, give the professionals at Advanced Family Medicine a call today at (425) 453-6838 today!